In the 2020 season, the Orioles used 58 different batting lineups for the shortened 60-game season. The last full season in 2019 saw them use 150 different lineups, with no one individual lineup repeated across more than four games.
This is important to keep in mind when looking at the 2021 Orioles Opening Day lineup because if the past patterns indicate how Brandon Hyde will fill out lineups for the rest of the year, we will seldom see this exact lineup again, if at all.
Here’s how they line up for the Opening Day game that was delayed by the whimsy of the last place Boston Red Sox:
- Cedric Mullins - CF
- Trey Mancini - 1B
- Anthony Santander - RF
- Ryan Mountcastle - DH
- Rio Ruiz - 2B
- Austin Hays - LF
- Maikel Franco - 3B
- Freddy Galvis - SS
- Pedro Severino - C
John Means is getting the Opening Day start as announced, so he’s already doing better than last year in that regard.
It is good to see Mancini back in a regular season lineup. He gets the place of modern lineup privilege, as the #2 spot in the order should belong to the best hitter in order to make sure that he gets more opportunities to bat. Mancini’s .899 OPS in his most recent season in 2019 would fit fine in that spot. Here’s hoping that his return to the diamond is a smooth one after missing last season while undergoing cancer treatments.
If anyone had been worried about whether Santander would be able to make it after he was held out of the last week or so of spring training games due to a sore oblique, those worries can be put aside for now. I guess we’ll see from his performance if he’s really ready to play.
Back in February, I would have been surprised to see Mullins and Hays in the same lineup. Heading into camp, it seemed like those two guys were competing for the center field job and the other might head for the bench. Perhaps that will still end up happening, but for now, if Mountcastle is the DH, there’s room in the outfield for both Mullins and Hays.
That may not last for long, depending on what the team decides to do when DJ Stewart returns from the injured list. It’s another reason why this lineup may ever be used again, or if it is, it won’t show up exactly like this for long.
It’s not the most exciting thing to see Mullins and his career .290 on-base percentage sitting in the leadoff spot. He did look good in spring training though, with the early results of his experiment to ditch switch-hitting in favor of just being a lefty batter being positive. I hope that can carry over to the regular season.
Seeing the “Rio Ruiz, second baseman” experiment carry over into the regular season is also not exciting. Ruiz has not hit enough to be a guy you find a way to keep on the roster at all costs and he’s just... not a second baseman. The infield defense with Franco at his usual position and Ruiz out of position could be grotesque. And batting fifth? With Mountcastle as the cleanup hitter? Sure, why not? There’s only one way to find out what’s going to happen.